Washington: US President Donald Trump has agreed to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by May, the White House announced on Thursday, setting the stage for an unprecedented summit between the two leaders following months of tension over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes.
In a stunning development, senior South Korean officials visiting the US announced the news of verbally conveying Kim’s invitation to Trump for talks. The White House said Trump was ready to meet Kim by May, at a time and location yet to be determined.
The announcement came amid months of tension between the two nations.
If the meeting takes place it would be the first ever between leaders of the two countries.
Trump himself confirmed the meeting in a tweet, adding that US sanctions would remain in place until a denuclearisation deal
“Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearisation with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze. Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time. Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!,” Trump tweeted.
North Korea last year increased the pace of its missile programme. On November 29 last year, the North Korean leader said that his country had achieved full nuclear statehood after what he said was the successful test of a new missile capable of striking anywhere in the United States.
Fears of a catastrophic conflict between the US and North Korea spiked as the leaders of the two nations taunted each other, with the US President Donald Trump calling North Korean leader Kim Jong-un Rocket Man’.
The two nations had recently threatened to wipe each other out. Trump’s decision to meet Kim, after a year in which the two have repeatedly traded insults, is being seen as a remarkable breakthrough. South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-Yong, who led his country’s delegation to Pyongyang this week for talks with the North Korean leaders, briefed Trump and his national security team.
Reading from a prepared statement, Chung said the North Korean leader has expressed his “eagerness to meet with President Trump as soon as possible.”
Chung attributed the North Korean turnaround to Trump’s leadership and his maximum pressure policy together with international solidarity. In his meeting with the North Korean leader, Chung said Trump is committed to denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.